Hoquiam adjusts ambulance utility service rate; makes other adjustments in response to resident concerns

The City of Hoquiam addressed their utility bill in several ways at their recent City Council meeting.

Following the decision to adjust ambulance utility rates in December, the council had been hearing public backlash on social media and during council meetings regarding the change to bring rates up to recommended levels.

On Monday night, the City Council voted unanimously to retract the former rate adjustment and instead move to a new progressive rate.

With the adjustment, the monthly ambulance utility service rate will reduce from the current $38.64 down to $32.27 per month for 2024.

While the adjustment reduces the 2024 rates, the ordinance will still feature incremental increases in future years. 

In the previous ordinance, the 2025 rate was scheduled to increase to $40.92 and under the change this week that rate will be $42.93 monthly, The 2026 rate is also scheduled to see an increase from the December plan, going from $43.28 to the adjusted $45.61.

As part of the council discussion and changes at the meeting, Councilmember Dave Smith made a motion to produce a breakdown of the utility bill for the benefit of residents.

The document would explain the utility rate “in basic terms” and it would be posted in multiple areas, including the city website and social media for the greatest public access.

In addition, the possibility of a Regional Fire Authority was re-introduced. The proposal of a Central Grays Harbor RFA was taken to voters in 2021, 2022, and 2023, failing in each iteration. 

While the City of Hoquiam introduced the possibility, no other cities or local fire departments have indicated at this time if they would be interested in that option and it would restart a public information process.

That motion was not unanimous, with a single no-vote.

Following those actions, a motion to make the utility bill a monthly charge instead of bi-monthly as it currently stands was introduced. That motion was withdrawn for a new motion that the idea be taken to the Regulatory Committee to research the option before returning it to the council.